Janet Jones is in a good place. She is a volunteer zoomie on the Djuma cam for WildEarth, has made many friends and is planning a trip to the Sabi Sand in September 2016. But things haven’t always been this great. “When I discovered WE in 2009, I was in the midst of some pretty dark days. I was deeply submerged in active alcoholism and had isolated myself in shame from almost all friends and family. The problems were mounting financially and emotionally.”

Janet had suffered personal and financial losses and was sinking deeper into depression. She happened upon a bald eagle cam and began to search for more wildlife cams to take her mind off her struggles for a while.

“I immediately fell in love with the bush and all of the guides. To my great surprise, I found an amazing community of fellow nature lovers and made some friends who remain good friends to this day. Gradually I got more and more involved and began to do ‘online tracking’ of the leopards and lions of the area, sending in reports of all the sightings in the area to aid the guides. In those days, I don’t think communications were quite what they are today between the crew and others who traverse the area and each ‘character’ did not have his or her own Facebook page.”

She then dived in feet first when the opportunity arose to become one of our zoomies. And she hasn’t looked back since, using her new found role, and the community as a support structure. “I zoomed sightings I never thought possible – a very young baboon playing with cables and staring curiously into the cam from inches away, a young Xivambalana curious about the cam’s movements and most memorable – the night we all sat on the edge of our seats and watched a hyena hunt and kill a small antelope while a hippo attempted to move the hyena off.”

Janet says she owes a lot to WE and the friends she has made through our ever growing community. “In my ‘dark years’, WE kept me afloat, gave me friends and something to look forward to twice a day. For that, I will be forever grateful. As of last month, I have been sober for five years. My life is now richer than I ever could have imagined.”

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